Thursday 8 April 2004

Letters from readers

Regular F&W reader Neil Craig had a letter printed in the Scotsman recently.

Andrew Duffin's letter in today's Herald explains the reasons behind the high cost of rural housing:

Once again – in the letter from Nick Dekker on April 7 – you give prominent credence to the view that the high price of housing in rural Scotland is some sort of sinister plot by landowners. This is not the case. Many or most landowners, large or small, would be delighted to sell land for residential development, or to develop it themselves for sale or rent. The reason they cannot, and do not, is the planning system. It is incredibly difficult, complicated and time-consuming to get permission to build a house in Scotland. It is, in fact, simply forbidden to do so outside existing settlements, unless you are a farmer or can plausibly claim to be one.

This is why we have a housing shortage. This is why a building plot – with such permission – on the west coast costs £50,000 even though the countryside is empty of building as far as the eye can see. The answer to a problem caused by state meddling is not more state meddling, but less: get rid of the planning system, the prices will fall, and the houses will be built. It really is that easy.

Andrew Duffin.

Congratulations to Neil and Andrew.